Factory Benelux presents a remastered CD edition of Sextet, the second studio album by Manchester postpunk funk group A Certain Ratio, originally released by Factory Records in January 1982.
Self-produced at Revolution Studio, Sextet saw the original Ratio quintet of Donald Johnson, Jeremy Kerr, Martin Moscrop, Simon Topping and Peter Terrell joined by co-vocalist Martha 'Tili' Tilson. Written and recorded following a transformative sojourn in New York at the end of 1980, the album reflects Latin, samba and even jazz influences (eg Skipscada; Day One), while still retaining Ratio's signature brittle funk textures, heard in full effect on Lucinda, Gum and trancelike floor filler Knife Slits Water.
Newly remastered, the bonus tracks across the CD and vinyl formats include non-album single Waterline as well as dub plate Abracadubra (released as Sir Horatio), and the band's three song John Peel session from June 1981.
The CD version also includes a further Peel session from November 1982, featuring two songs never before released on record: Piu Lento, and Who's To Say. Also included are both extended 12" mixes of Knife Slits Water, together with an early demo version of percussive marathon Si Firmir O Grido.
4. Knife Slits Water
6. Day One
7. Rub Down
9. Below the Canal
1. Skipscada (Peel 1981)
2. Day One (Peel 1981)
3. Knife Slits Water (Peel 1981)
4. Who's To Say? (Peel 1982)
5. Piu Lento (Peel 1982)
6. Touch (Peel 1982)
7. Si Fermir O Grido (demo)
8. Knife Slits Water (12" version)
9. Kether Hot Knives (12 version)
"Sextet is a strange, enchanting ritual of a record. A return in spirit to the loopy mysticism of the brilliant Flight 12", updating that record's concrete rhythms to the present, eerily disembodied dance form" (NME, 01/1982)
"Before ACR there was The Pop Group but, the latter apart, no-one can claim to have played an earlier role in post-punk's then seemingly improbable mutation into white funk. From 1982, Sextet offers more developed and subtlely shaded material" (Uncut, 05/2002)
"It's common these days for old bits of music to be pulled from the bottom of the river and hailed as treasure. In the case of Factory pioneers ACR, having not so much invented as re-interpreted Latin, funk and jazz in a compellingly creative way, there's no doubt that they deserve attention. The music now sounds stunningly dark, detailed and rhymically inventive" (Mojo, 05/2002)
"Second - and possibly best - album from the Mancunian punk-funkers. In many ways ACR were the bridge between Manchester's punk and house scenes" (Uncut, 09/2004)
Sextet is a really excellent record. It's a masterpiece, in fact - a mesmerizing blend of ethnic rhythms and ghostly production that really sounds like nothing else. Picture Chic covering Unknown Pleasures for a simplified starting point. But that doesn't quite capture how alien sounding it actually is - it isn't quite funk, but it is funky, full of slap bass, slashing guitar riffs and loads of percussion. It's almost like looking at third-generation Xerox copy of funk - you can certainly recognize the original artifact in there, but the toner has made it all gray, detached and distorted, leaving you with an entirely new piece of art in its stead" (Stylus, 10/2004)
"ACR were as crucial to Factory's original ethos as Joy Division - and as similarly unique and unknowable. For all the music's maximal import - a subliminely taut and yet pliable mesh of funk, Latin and jazz peppered by horns - it flows in minimal waves, its trancey apotheosis being the lengthy Knife Slits Water. Less the 'all night party' of their earliest records and more an all-night seance. Donald Johnson's drumming is especially scintilating, and new arrival Martha Tilson's adenoidal vocal add more uncanny vibes. The choicest extras are the Peel sessions, of which the otherwise unrecorded Who's To Say and Piu Lento added clavinet-enhanced notes of Mahavishnu-slanted fusion. 4 stars" (Mojo, 12/2014)
Arguably their greatest moment, Sextet presents a kaleidoscope of an album full of zest and, in places - Knife Slits Water - sheer blinding brilliance. Gone was the dour rigidity of To Each.... This was a band now capable of truly matching the complexities of their own musical ambition. Not since PiL's dominant Metal Box had a band so seamlessly traversed such an unexpectedly broad musical landscape. While To Each... had appeared as the ultimate Factory artefact, Sextet neither sounded, nor looked remotely like any other Factory record. The vividly colourful sleeve - created in part by Hacienda designer Ben Kelly - promised a dense exotica which was answered the moment the opening Lucinda took Ratio's crisp funk base and literally tugged it into new territories. Thirteen tracks later, as the needle lifted, the listener experienced extraordinary flurries of world beats, samba, flurries of jazz and even scat singing on the dizzying Skipscada, hypnotic trance and several stabs at music that wouldn't generally be heard in Britain until the close of the decade. That's how far ahead of the game Ratio were" (The Quietus, 09/2014)
"A Certain Ratio, contemporaries of Joy Division, were the other extra-hip Manchester band on Factory label. Unlike their colleagues, they actually made it to New York during 1980 - a transformative experience, as they plunged into the city's musical melting pot, eventually absorbing Latin/Nuyorican funk (check the slap bass on Martha Tilson-cooed pop nugget Lucinda), abstract jazz and Brazilian percussion (see the whistle-crazy Skipscada), into their once pallid Lancastrian sound. Sextet's unrivalled triumph was to incorporate all these things, while maintaining a murky, super-weird post-punk edge, and even pushing it with synth drones and electronic drums. A bonus disc of Peel sessions and 12-inch mixes further spotlight the band's exploratory joy. 4 stars" (Uncut, 12/2014)
"After singer Martha Tilson joined up to give trumpeter Simon Topping a break from his reluctant position as frontman, A Certain Ratio's six-piece lineup recorded and self-produced their third album, released at the beginning of 1982. Thirty-two years later, Sextet still sounds like no other record: it's either that era's creepiest, boggiest dance album or its funkiest smear of brittle art-noise... Kerr and Johnson do their damnedest to play funk as hard as the Sugar Hill Records house band - hitting precise, clipped grooves while their bandmates run interference with haphazardly flung splashes of atonal piano and dissonant horn bleats... This new reissue appends a 13-track bonus disc to the original album. Besides the Knife Slits Water 12-inch (and its B-side, a near-instrumental Sugar Hill pastiche with the Kabbalistic title Kether Hot Knives), it includes the Waterline single that introduced Tilson when it immediately preceded Sextet, a couple of meandering dub experiments the band originally released under the name Sir Horatio, and BBC radio sessions from 1981 and 1982. They all illuminate the band's curious fascinations and tensions in that period, but Sextet itself-a gorgeous mess, slumped against the back wall of the best dance club in town-is no less mysterious for the illumination (Pitchfork, 11/2014)
"A long-overdue and near-essential document of the moment Factory's funk outfit found their feet, having just returned to Manchester from a fact-finding (and beat-finding) mission to New York at the very start of the 80s. This two disc CD and vinyl edition is exhaustive, pulling in non-album single Waterline, dub track Abracadubra, two John Peel sessions (recorded either side of the album's release), and both long sides of the thunderous Knife Slits Water 12" single. File under Funk With Punk Attitude and alongside the classic works of Jah Wobble, Pigbag et al" (Classic Pop, 12/2014)